This marvelous thing is an antique "sandpaper painting"--a technique popular in the mid 19th century, of creating charcoal drawings on paper coated with marble dust, which creates a surface with a fine grit like sandpaper. These are a pretty fascinating genre, typically monochromatic and most often depicting Hudson River landscapes, though one occasionally finds portraits and examples incorporating color, like this one. These most often were done by untrained artists using established artworks as their basis, but adding their own elements and adaptations. I have to think this boy and dog was done after a 18th century painting by Gainsborough or Bartholomew Dandridge or someone similar among which there are smartly dressed boys and dogs aplenty, but of course it is the singularities where the greatness is--like the disappearing paw where the boy holds it his white glove, and those rather haunting, deeply soulful black holes of eyes on the dog! The deep gray ground itself is a gorgeous thing, giving the whole thing the feeling of a vision. Love, love, and an image that I at least can't get out of my head!
12 1/4" x 11" and in good condition for being what I believe somewhere between 150-175 years old. Some wear to the surface and I think some old water stains along the left side of the background, showing darker black, and a clean, smallish tear coming in from the lower left edge, but really I think all of this just adds to the aura of this wonderful piece.